Max and Vera Volosenkova, Russian Jews, are living in France. Max is a composer and Vera is a writer. Together with their daughter Lucie, they have a very comfortable life. In 1940, as the Nazi occupation accelerates, foreign nationals are required to report for internment. They entrust Lucie to go with her governess Agnes to a remote farm for safety. Vera is grief-stricken but has every hope she will soon be reunited with her daughter.
Conditions in France worsen and Vera and Max, because of their wealth and position, are able to escape to America. They still believe that Lucie is safer remaining in hiding in France and that they have done the right thing. As artists, they are welcomed into a community of talented expatriate artists and intellectuals. Max adapts well but Vera cannot escape her guilt and concern over her daughter. Vera makes the acquaintance of Sasha, a young Jewish filmmaker and war hero, who is sympathetic to her situation and has an intriguing immigrant story of his own. Unlike Vera, who has known a life of wealth, Sasha and his mother came from Poland and his early years in the U.S. were spent in poverty on New York City’s Lower East Side.
This compelling and emotional book is told from the perspectives of Vera, Lucie and Sasha. It begs the question, “what would you have done?” Parental sacrifice is a moving subject and Those Who Are Saved will tug at your heartstrings. Author Alexis Landau has created interesting and complex characters. I enjoyed reading about the couple’s life in California. Many of the colorful characters within the arts and entertainment world Vera and Max associate with are real-life figures who are well-integrated into the story. The scenes in post-War France movingly express the chaos and tragedy of all those seeking lost relatives as they cling to the hope that their loved ones are alive and will be found. Pack some Kleenex.
Many thanks to Edelweiss, G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin Publishing Group and author Alexis Landau for the opportunity to read Those Who Are Saved in advance of its February 23, 2021 publication date.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: February 23, 2021.
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